A Long Way Gone

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A Long Way Gone Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Beah looks upon the moon one night, noticing how it is often covered by clouds, but continues to shine all night long. Beah thinks his journey is like that of the moon, except, of course, worse. Beah then thinks about how Saidu said each time they are attacked, it feels like a part of him dies. Bea worries that he too is slowly dying.
Beah feels, on the one hand, how much fortitude and courage he has shown, when he thinks of the moon, and on the other hand, how much he has lost and his fear that he will lose more. He is always swinging from hope to despair.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
On the other hand, Beah knows that there are the times that good things happen, and that they are kept afloat by these times, like the one where some men not only welcomed them to their village, but invited them to go hunting and the subsequent feast. While lying in a hammock in the village before the meal, Beah remembers laying in his grandmother’s hammock, and again is swept up by his memories of his family.
The kindness of these villagers mirrors that of the man in the hut by the sea, but it also sparks heartbreaking memories of good times with his family that he fears he will never have again. The fact that there is a danger in kindness in the sense that kindness makes you feel, will be evident later in the book as well.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
After the meal, there is singing and dancing. The boys stay up all night, but leave in the morning, buoyed, but only for a moment, by the generosity of the villagers, who have even given them some meat for their journey.
The boys are allowed to be boys again, and are treated with the affection one would give to strangers in a safer place, and that which children, especially orphans, deserve.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
As the others boys fall asleep that night, Beah remembers how wonderful his name-giving ceremony was, how safe he felt to be welcomed into his community. In the morning, the meat is gone. The boys blame each other, only to find it was a dog who had gotten into their meat. As the boys walk on, Alhaji says angrily that he should’ve killed the dog and eaten it, and the other boys are surprised and worried by his aggression. But Musa agrees, saying that Malaysians eat dogs, and that his father would have been fine with him eating what he had to.
As often seems to happen, the good times bring Beah back to memories of what he lost. However, the bickering over the lost meat reflects that the boys, in the end, sometimes feel that they cannot even trust each other. That the boys consider the possibility of eating dog meat, while repulsive, reflects the desperation and the collapse of morality that the boys are experiencing.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
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The boys begin to tell each other of their last day in Mattru Jong. Musa ran out of his town with his mother and father, but his mother was somehow left behind, and when his father went back to get her, the rebels attacked, and Musa left. Alhaji ran to his house, to find it empty. Kanei made it across the river that many had drowned in, and had heard his mother and father had escaped. Jumah and Moriba had lost their parents. Saidu’s sisters were raped, and all of the rest of his family kidnapped, while he hid in the attic.
The boys have held back talking about their families, and about their last day in Mattru Jong, and it becomes clear now why. Not just because what happened was horrible, but because there doesn’t seem to be much that they can do but tell of the horrors they themselves have seen. The boys understand each other’s pain, but are no more hopeful or happy for having told their stories.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Beah says that the moon followed them at night, but that it also hid at night behind clouds so it couldn’t see the terrible things happening. One day, a crow falls out of the sky, dead, and although this seems ominous to the boys, the boys eat it. After they are done, silence overtakes the surrounding nature.
Beah imagines that even nature is afraid of the civil war in Sierra Leone, and Beah no longer looks to the moon as a model for his behavior. The boys are cautious about eating a dead animal falling from the sky, and rightfully so, but just as Beah was desperate enough to eat strange fruit, so the boys are now.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
That night is too dark for Beah, ominously so, but the boys must walk on. At a bridge, they hide from some strangers, but are not found. When the strangers move on, the boys cannot find Saidu, and when they do, he is lying there unmoving. Someone says that maybe it was the bird they ate. As night turns rapidly to morning, the boy decide they will have to carry Saidu, but as they do, he awakes, telling the other boys the strangers were ghosts.
The boys’ experience with the strangers at the bridge and Saidu’s collapse is horribly strange. There is no simple explanation available to the boys for his collapse, given that all the boys had some of the bird. Saidu’s exclamation about ghosts adds to the strangeness: even if none of it is true, the boys’ paranoia and fear is obvious.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
The boys come upon a village, the largest they have been in. They see familiar faces, a woman even comes and tells them that she recognizes them and has seen Junior, and that Beah’s mother and father are two days’ walk away. Beah is elated. That night they steal a pot of rice and cassava leaves, but Beah cannot sleep that night, feeling something is not right. Dogs begin to cry in an eerily human way, and in the morning, Saidu is silent and unmoving again. This time he has passed away.
Despite the horrible foreshadowing, things appear to be looking up for the boys, and they allow themselves to hope. But by night time, there are more omens, and by the morning, Saidu is dead. The boys do not speculate much about what killed Saidu, or worry if they themselves will get sick, as they are too overcome with sadness.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon
Beah cannot believe Saidu has died. He thinks at first that he has simply fainted and will get up soon. But then Saidu is buried, and Beah understands. He remembers Saidu saying how he was dying slowly. The dogs cry again that night. The boys decide to walk on, sobbing, wondering who will die next.
Beah hopes that his friend might yet be alive. Despite all he has seen, each new loss hurts as much as the last for Beah. War has cut the boys off from everything—from their families and from hope.
Themes
Children in War Theme Icon
The Horror of War Theme Icon
Companionship, Hope, and the Self Theme Icon
Nature  Theme Icon